According to data from UNESCO, Nigeria has about 20 million out-of-school children. This long-standing problem has become part of the campaign rhetoric of presidential candidates, who have not hesitated to promise Nigerians that they will resolve the issue. As persuasive as they may sound, it will be almost impossible for them to eradicate mass illiteracy. The reason is because the executive arm of government, which includes the Nigerian President and the Federal Government, are not in charge of the primary school system. In Nigeria’s federalism, the plan is to have executive powers shared among the federal, state and local government in a way that synergy is created.
The state and local governments are constitutionally responsible for primary school education and healthcare, and their work is designed to be facilitated by councillors and legislators in the House of Assembly. Over time, Nigerians have proved to either be ignorant of the separation of powers among the three arms of government or reluctant to accept that they play different roles.
This ignorance or reluctance, as the case may be, will be seen in the 2023 election forecast that SBM Intelligence has collaborated with the Enough is Enough Coalition to conduct. The results of that forecast will be published tomorrow, and will show a declining interest in down-ballot elections among Nigerians. All of our respondents in this survey had interest in the presidential election; but only a third, 34.53%, were interested in the governorship elections. A fifth, 19.86%, showed any interest in the Senate, while the interest level in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly elections was a sixth (16.75%) and a seventh (14.24%), respectively.
Many citizens are unduly focused on the presidential election, so there is need for mass education on the importance of other positions because their actions and inaction play a crucial role in enhancing or dousing the efforts of the presidency. At the end of May, Nigeria will have only one president, 36 governors, 109 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives. Therefore, Nigerians would do well to take every tier seriously and elect the right candidates if they truly desire to see a government that delivers satisfactorily on its promises and a country that works for everyone.